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Winning Hand: Cards use late rally to outlast rival Covington

By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Basketball Aaron Alston to dunk Basketball Tae'lyr Gatlin steal Basketball Zach Lewis layupThe Covington Chargers bolted into Brighton Saturday night with momentum after winning the Carbondale Holiday Tournament.
Meanwhile their rivals the Brighton Cardinals limped into the Brighton Gymnasium after dropping their District 13-3A opener Thursday night to Liberty 56-49. Stan Gatlin’s Cardinals were looking to bounce back and gain a measure of revenge against Covington with the Chargers winning the Dec. 12 match up 67-61.
Brighton was able to avenge that defeat and game some momentum winning 62-53 behind the combination of key plays from their “Big Three” of Tae’lyr Gatlin, Aaron Alston and Zach Lewis and contributions from Jordan Johnson, Crishun Maclin, Anthony Smith and Martez Logan.
“Covington is a very talented team and very well-coached team,” Coach Gatlin said. “For us to get a win against a team that is really hot, they just won a tournament up in Carbondale. There were like 14-3 coming into tonight. It’s special to get a win against them.
“They’re going to press you hard,” he added. “They’ll give you all kinds of basketball that you’ll see in your district play. If we can come out and handle the adversity against them, that means that we should be fine in district play.”
The Cardinals jumped out to an 18-12 lead after 8 minutes behind Tae’lyr Gatlin hitting a couple of jumpers early on. Then his fellow senior Lewis drained a triple to break an 8-8 deadlock.
The next big play for Brighton was an Aaron Alston slam off a no-look pass from Gatlin to make the tally 13-8.
Brighton closed out the opening period with a Logan three-pointer and a Gatlin jumper. But the Chargers would win the second quarter outscoring the Cardinals 16-13 to make the halftime score 31-28 in favor Brighton.
Covington was able to trim the deficit to a bucket by the end of the third quarter. Lewis paced Brighton in the third period making a variety of shots. “Buckets” Lewis hit jumpers, drove to the rim for a layup and drew fouls to make free throws.
Lewis had 10 points in the third quarter allowing Brighton to nurse a 45-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals would win the final period 17-10 to pull away. With the ball handling of Logan relieving Gatlin, the Brighton guards were able to locate players like Smith for buckets in the paint.
Logan took matters in his own hands midway in the fourth quarter with a floater finding the bottom of the net to make the score 53-48.
Once again Brighton got a highlight and sucked the energy out of their Tipton County rivals with an Alston two-hand dunk making the tally 55-48.
The Cardinals would ice the game from the free-throw line prevailing by 9 points.
“I hope they learned that you’ve got to be tough,” Coach Gatlin said. “You’ve got to be mentally tough to grind it out. You definitely have to fight through it. I definitely saw some good things out of my kids, especially Martez Logan.
“I’ve been getting on him the past couple of years about his intensity on defense,” he concluded. “He’s a monster on offense but on defense he wasn’t playing with any intensity. I told him that is what is going to keep you from playing. You have to play defense like you want to play defense. And he gave us a lot tonight.”

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